RESTITUTION FROM PUBLIC AUTHORITIES
(A) PRAGMATISM AND POLICY
Restitutionary claims against public authorities raise distinct issues of policy and principle in the law of restitution. The viability of such claims is a matter of great public importance, since some of these claims can involve very large sums of money, especially those which involve overpaid taxes. For example, in one case the claim was to recover ?205 million of overpaid tax plus interest payments of ?1.25 billion, and in another the amount due to claimants amounted to over ?5 billion.  It is, consequently, a matter of importance to the public, either as the beneficiaries of public authority services or the victims of overpayments to public authorities, to determine when and why such overpayments can be recovered.
There are two contradictory questions of public policy which need to be taken into account when determining the ambit of restitutionary claims against public authorities.